Essays on my latest book, The Blue Box, a family history centered around three women from three generations spanning the Civil War through the Jazz Age.
Sunday I gave my first reading from The Blue Box: Three Lives in Letters to 32 attentive listeners in my beautiful garden: sections from the lives of my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mother, containing some of the funniest passages in the book.
What a great pleasure and privilege it is to look out at faces full of interest and energy, full of the delight of language which we all share, full of the pleasure of being present at a birth.
The idea of a birth reminded me what when my second collection of short stories and a novella, called The Touching Hand, was published by Houghton-Mifflin Company, I was pregnant with my second son.
It was spring in New York and even in that often-grim city, everything was blooming.
Pregnancy always suited me—raising them was another issue—and I remember looking in the mirror at my large self, tastefully disguised, or so I thought, in one of the big bright shifts I sewed myself, I could hardly believe my great good fortune. A book, and a baby, both ready to come into the world…
Perhaps I was wearing the shift, black with big white and yellow daisies, which my oldest son made into a clay image: a large mound of a creature, me, lying on my back, with the bold daisies carried upwards on my belly…
I hope it was that dress. It would have made a suitable backdrop for my book, with its handsome midnight-blue cover, a night-lighted ocean liner with a big red funnel steaming across it. The novella took place on just such a liner…
There are moments in life that are so precious, so sweet, that years later they still ring like a set of silver chimes.
I hope and believe that The Blue Box will bring the same joy into my readers’ lives as The Touching Hand and my pregnancy brought to me.